The Philippine Women Judges Association (PWJA) held its 25th Annual Convention-Seminar on March 3-5, 2020 at the Manila Hotel with focus on equipping its members of the know-how in handling cybercrime cases.
PWJA President Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe led the convention with this year’s theme PWJA: Empowering Women Judges in the Cyber Age. The event provided an opportunity for all participating judges and justices to share knowledge which, according to Justice Bernabe, “will enhance our understanding of the complexities of cybercrime cases, and enable us to gain insights from the best practices presented by our colleagues.”
The lectures included Internet for Judges – An Introduction to Cybercrime, Evidentiary and Trial Issues Concerning Digital Evidence, Cyber Jeopardy – A Quiz Show on Cybercrime, and Q & A with the Cybercops.
In her opening remarks, Justice Perlas-Bernabe said that this year’s theme “is very much on point” stressing that “traditional crimes have taken on a new online dimension” and that judges have the daunting task of navigating through these so-called cybercrimes.
“The challenge is for you to take a pro-active stance in equipping yourselves with practical knowledge of the workings of information and communications technology – including how it can be exploited – in order for you to better apply the law….The academic program is designed to keep you abreast with a lot of developments and give you some practical skills in the handling of cybercrime cases,” said Justice Perlas-Bernabe.
For her part, SC Associate Justice Rosmari D. Carandang, PWJA Executive Vice President, said that “[i]t is essential that women judges not only benefit from technology but also participate in the process from its conception to its application…Online diligence, monitoring and reporting against violence and related crimes is everyone’s business but women judges must play an active and responsible leadership role. We must take advantage of this digital revolution to ensure that it will facilitate progress.”
The PWJA was organized by retired SC Associate Justice Ameurfina A. Melencio-Herrera on September 5, 1987 with only 155 women judges or 9% of the total population of magistrates in the Judiciary. This number, according to Justice Perlas-Bernabe, has steadily grown over the years with more and more women being appointed to the bench. As of February 26, 2020, out of the total number of 2024 judges and justices all over the country, female magistrates already account for 50.49%.
The PWJA convention coincides with the celebration of national women’s month in consonance with the international women’s day on March 8.